According to the Oxford Dictionary, mindfulness is defined as: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. Or, a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness is transformative. It’s easy to become, and remain, caught up in the routine stress and consumptive patterns you experience on a daily basis. Part of supporting a healthy immune system involves being mindful of your mind, body, spirit and the space you physically and emotionally occupy. It’s incredible how shifting your focus to just one healthy habit can have a domino effect on your body, mind and life!
In addition to mindfulness, getting the proper amount and good quality sleep is critical for maintaining immune health. There are many benefits of a good night’s sleep. It is one of the most overlooked ways your body regenerates its immune system.
Adequate sleep helps T cells in your body fight infection. T cells play an important role in the immune system by killing virally infected cells. Sleep has the potential to improve the function of T cells. If you do not get adequate or good quality sleep, stress hormones may inhibit the ability of your T cells to function as effectively.
Strive to consistently get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to maintain a healthy body and mind and promote a state of overall wellness. A short midday nap can recharge the immune system too!
Sleep is as important to your overall health and wellness as proper nutrition and exercise.
The foods you eat play an integral part in the health and vitality of your immune system. As with many of your day to day activities what you eat has an effect on your overall wellness. Isn’t that wonderful? It means you CAN be in control of your health.
With what’s going on in the world right now a strong immune system is extremely important. This and the next several blog posts will explore ways you can support your immune system. To make sure you don’t miss any, click here to subscribe to the blog.
Before I had cancer I thought I ate pretty healthy. I knew that fruits, vegetables and whole grains were good for me and that processed, packaged, and fast foods were not. I was conscious of the amount of sodium and sugar content in the foods I ate and subscribed to the “everything in moderation” approach.
After finishing treatment, I attended a lecture about diet and breast cancer given by Thomas Campbell, MD. This prompted me to read The China Study, The China Study Solution and How Not to Die, and complete a certificate program in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies through eCornell, a division of Cornell University.
They revealed that the foods you eat may help you avoid or potentially reverse certain diseases. The best “diet” is one rich in whole, unprocessed plant foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. I continue to explore how the food you consume can affect your health.
Did you know that 70 to 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut? Help keep your gut healthy by getting plenty of fiber. Foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It’s important to eat a wide variety as each contains different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fiber by the way is only found in plants.
What specific foods can help strengthen your immune system?
Kale and Spinach
Blueberries and Blackberries
Red Bell Peppers and Chili Peppers
Almonds, Walnuts and Sunflower Seeds
Turmeric and Ginger
Additional Dietary Considerations
- Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphanes which activate the immune system. These sprouts contain many times more sulforaphanes than regular broccoli. Purchase organic, non GMO sprouts or consider growing your own.
- Drink lots of fresh, pure water. Every day you should consume in ounces an amount equal to half your body weight in pounds. (Ex. If you weigh 125lbs drink 62.5oz of water). Use a water filter if you are on a municipal water system or have your water tested if it comes from a well.
- Cut down on or eliminate salt, refined sugar, refined flour, dairy products, food additives, preservatives, and colorings, and alcohol.
Start incorporating more whole, unprocessed plant foods into your diet. They can help you feel better, have more energy and potentially avoid or reverse disease. Changing what you eat can be hard at first. Take small steps. It will become easier with time and repetition.
Like other systems in the body, as you get older your immune function declines. That means you need to be even more diligent about supporting and strengthening your immune system.
Your body wants to be healthy and has the capacity to heal itself if given the opportunity. The foods you eat play an integral part in the strength of your immune system. Be sure to check out next week’s blog to learn how exercise plays a role in immune system support.
Oh, by the way I have a guide on “natural” ways to support your immune system. Click here to get the guide.